skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: A Unified Modeling Framework to Advance Biofuel Production from Microalgae

Abstract

Modeling efforts to understand the financial implications of microalgal biofuels often assume a static basis for microalgae biomass composition and cost, which has constrained cultivation and downstream conversion process design and limited in-depth understanding of their interdependencies. For this work, a dynamic biological cultivation model was integrated with thermo-chemical/biological unit process models for downstream biorefineries to increase modeling fidelity, to provide mechanistic links among unit operations, and to quantify minimum product selling prices of biofuels via techno-economic analysis. Variability in design, cultivation, and conversion parameters were characterized through Monte Carlo simulation, and sensitivity analyses were conducted to identify key cost and fuel yield drivers. Cultivating biomass to achieve the minimum biomass selling price or to achieve maximum lipid content were shown to lead to suboptimal fuel production costs. Depending on biomass composition, both hydrothermal liquefaction and a biochemical fractionation process (combined algal processing) were shown to have advantageous minimum product selling prices, which supports continued investment in multiple conversion pathways. Ultimately, this work demonstrates a clear need to leverage integrated modeling platforms to advance microalgae biofuel systems as a whole, and specific recommendations are made for the prioritization of research and development pathways to achieve economical biofuel production from microalgae.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3];  [2];  [4];  [4]; ORCiD logo [4];  [4]; ORCiD logo [5];  [6]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana−Champaign. Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory, 205 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana, Illinois 61801, United States; Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado School of Mines. 1500 Illinois St., Golden, Colorado 80401, United States
  2. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana−Champaign. Newmark Civil Engineering Laboratory, 205 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana, Illinois 61801, United States
  3. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado School of Mines. 1500 Illinois St., Golden, Colorado 80401, United States
  4. National Bioenergy Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 15013 Denver West Parkway, Golden, Colorado 80401, United States
  5. Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder. 4001 Discovery Drive, Boulder, Colorado 80309, United States
  6. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado School of Mines. 1500 Illinois St., Golden, Colorado 80401, United States; National Bioenergy Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 15013 Denver West Parkway, Golden, Colorado 80401, United States
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OSTI Identifier:
1484430
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-5100-72869
Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Science and Technology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 52; Journal Issue: 22; Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
Publisher:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; microalgae; biofuels; biomass composition; biorefineries

Citation Formats

Leow, Shijie, Shoener, Brian D., Li, Yalin, DeBellis, Jennifer L., Markham, Jennifer, Davis, Ryan, Laurens, Lieve M. L., Pienkos, Philip T., Cook, Sherri M., Strathmann, Timothy J., and Guest, Jeremy S. A Unified Modeling Framework to Advance Biofuel Production from Microalgae. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b03663.
Leow, Shijie, Shoener, Brian D., Li, Yalin, DeBellis, Jennifer L., Markham, Jennifer, Davis, Ryan, Laurens, Lieve M. L., Pienkos, Philip T., Cook, Sherri M., Strathmann, Timothy J., & Guest, Jeremy S. A Unified Modeling Framework to Advance Biofuel Production from Microalgae. United States. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b03663.
Leow, Shijie, Shoener, Brian D., Li, Yalin, DeBellis, Jennifer L., Markham, Jennifer, Davis, Ryan, Laurens, Lieve M. L., Pienkos, Philip T., Cook, Sherri M., Strathmann, Timothy J., and Guest, Jeremy S. Fri . "A Unified Modeling Framework to Advance Biofuel Production from Microalgae". United States. doi:10.1021/acs.est.8b03663. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1484430.
@article{osti_1484430,
title = {A Unified Modeling Framework to Advance Biofuel Production from Microalgae},
author = {Leow, Shijie and Shoener, Brian D. and Li, Yalin and DeBellis, Jennifer L. and Markham, Jennifer and Davis, Ryan and Laurens, Lieve M. L. and Pienkos, Philip T. and Cook, Sherri M. and Strathmann, Timothy J. and Guest, Jeremy S.},
abstractNote = {Modeling efforts to understand the financial implications of microalgal biofuels often assume a static basis for microalgae biomass composition and cost, which has constrained cultivation and downstream conversion process design and limited in-depth understanding of their interdependencies. For this work, a dynamic biological cultivation model was integrated with thermo-chemical/biological unit process models for downstream biorefineries to increase modeling fidelity, to provide mechanistic links among unit operations, and to quantify minimum product selling prices of biofuels via techno-economic analysis. Variability in design, cultivation, and conversion parameters were characterized through Monte Carlo simulation, and sensitivity analyses were conducted to identify key cost and fuel yield drivers. Cultivating biomass to achieve the minimum biomass selling price or to achieve maximum lipid content were shown to lead to suboptimal fuel production costs. Depending on biomass composition, both hydrothermal liquefaction and a biochemical fractionation process (combined algal processing) were shown to have advantageous minimum product selling prices, which supports continued investment in multiple conversion pathways. Ultimately, this work demonstrates a clear need to leverage integrated modeling platforms to advance microalgae biofuel systems as a whole, and specific recommendations are made for the prioritization of research and development pathways to achieve economical biofuel production from microalgae.},
doi = {10.1021/acs.est.8b03663},
journal = {Environmental Science and Technology},
number = 22,
volume = 52,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {10}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Save / Share: